Uncle Remus Bank
The shape or form of a house, bank building, or a pig always comes to mind when anyone mentions a toy savings bank. So far in our classification of mechanical banks none of these have come into the group. As we reach No. 24, however, we closely approach a building form in that part of the Uncle Remus Bank which consists of a chicken coop into which the coins are deposited.
It is not definitely known who designed or manufactured the Uncle Remus Bank. There are no patent dates on the bank. However, the following is cast on the back of the chicken coop, "Uncle Remus Bank 136." There is a possibility that the bank was manufactured by Kyser & Rex of Philadelphia, Pa., who made the Lion And Monkey, Butting Buffalo, and others. Certain features of the bank itself would indicate their having produced it. However, it is also possible that the bank was manufactured by the Mechanical Novelty Works of New Britain, Conn., who made, among others, the Zoo Bank.
As to the actual designer, Patent No. 462150 dated October 27, 1891 covers the theme of a negro stealing chickens. This patent was issued to J. Murray of New York City. As pictured in these patent papers the negro moves forward with the coin in his right hand and deposits it in the chicken coop. At the same time a figure holding an umbrella moves from the left of the coop toward the negro and a dog moves from the right toward the negro. Its a well known fact that many liberties were taken from the time a bank was patented until it was actually put into the production stage. Transversely, many banks were manufactured exactly as patented. In any event, it is fairly reasonable to assume that Mr. Murray was the designer of the Uncle Remus Bank. So far there have been no other banks turn up with the stealing chickens theme or any others remotely similar to the patent of Mr. Murray.
The bank pictured is in good all around condition with no repairs or replaced parts. It was obtained by the writer some years ago through the help of the well known collector, Mr. Andrew Emerine.
The bank operates as follows: The figure of the policeman is pulled back to the position shown in the picture, a coin is then placed in the slot on the roof of the chicken coop, the head of the chicken, feeding in the yard, is then pressed. The policeman darts forward and around to the front swinging his club. At the same time the door of the chicken coop, with the figure of Uncle Remus thereon, slams shut. The coin automatically drops into the bank during the action. Coins are removed by means of a lock and key arrangement in the base.
The bank is painted in attractive colors. The policeman, of course, has a blue uniform with red belt and gold buttons. The chicken is bronze and gold. The base is green with yellow and red highlighting on the sides. The chicken coop is tan with a red roof and the steps are also tan. The fence is white and Uncle Remus has gray trousers, red jacket, and a yellow hat.
The manufacturing period of the bank is in the 1890s and during the time that mechanical banks have become collectors items it has maintained a high degree of desirability and rarity. Its traditional basic down-to-earth theme and the action surrounding this make it highly desirable to the collector.